Indian international students ditch Australia for UK

In recent years, India has been the marginal driver of Australia’s international student enrolments, taking over the growth mantle from China.

Over the past two financial years, Indian international student enrolments surged by 39,600 (62%), easily eclipsing the 34,100 (20%) growth in Chinese international students over the same period:

It is a similar situation with student visa applications, with India recording 34.3% growth in 2018-19, versus a 3.3% decline in Chinese student visa applications:

The landscape has changed dramatically, however, following recent visa changes both domestically and abroad.

First, the Morrison Government recently cut the permanent migrant intake by 30,000 to 160,000. Many Indian international students choose to study in Australia with the primary intention of gaining post-study work rights and later permanent residency.

Indeed, India has dominated Australia’s 485 (graduate) visa for many years, as illustrated below by the Department of Home Affairs:

With less probability of gaining permanent residency, following the latest permanent visa cut, there is obviously less incentive for Indians to choose to study in Australia going forward.

This brings me to the second major policy change that will likely weigh heavily on Indian student numbers.

For many years, Australia has offered the most generous post-study work rights in the world at two years for undergratuates (higher for post-graduates). This has made Australia an attractive study destination relative to its peers.

However, last month the United Kingdom Government announced that it would copy Australia’s two-year post-study visas, thus effectively ending Australia’s special advantage:

Third, the Australian Department of Home Affairs recently classified Indian international students as “high-risk”, meaning that visa applicants would now have to prove strong English-language proficiency as well as having sufficient funds available to support their living costs while studying.

Already, various Australian tertiary institutions have responded by capping Indian student admissions, as well as cancelling existing confirmation of enrolments.

The upshot of these three visa changes is that Indian international student enrolments will decline as these students either cannot meet the tightened admission criteria, or will choose to study elsewhere (e.g. the United Kingdom).

Indeed, the chief executive of the International Education Association of Australia, Phil Honeywood, yesterday claimed that the United Kingdom’s two-year post-study work visa is already diverting Indian international students away from Australia:

In recent weeks there has been much speculation about the disruptive potential of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to reinstate two-year post-study work right entitlements for overseas students graduating from UK universities.

Anecdotally, we are already hearing that large numbers of students from the subcontinent are switching their study destination intentions from countries such as Australia to Britain.

New Zealand is offering three-year post-study entitlements and Canada still maintains a clear nexus between onshore study and migration.

This follows Phil Honeywood’s similar warning last month:

Phil Honeywood… said Britain’s reintroduction of a two-year post-study work visa “could be a game changer for a number of markets we have taken for ­granted”…

International education expert Rahul Choudaha said… “Students will be very likely to switch over to the UK”… He said the British visa would be particularly attractive to students because it offered a pathway to permanent residency.

Australia’s success in attracting Indian international students was built upon its relatively generous working rights and permanent residency.

Now that Australia is losing these advantages, Australia’s international student boom is set to turn bust.

Leith van Onselen


    • Exactly. ‘Bring it on’

      The Morrison government has reintroduced a bill to change the Migration Act to provide grounds for visa cancellation or refusal where a non-citizen has been convicted of a serious crime punishable by two years imprisonment, even if a jail term is not imposed.

      A submission from migration experts to the Senate committee warn the retrospective law could be the “largest expansion of the character test provisions in the Migration Act in history” and may result in the number of people who fail the character test automatically expanded “by a factor of five”.

      Well I believe that the Australian community would like to see this new bill for the migrant visa character test expanded.

      Not just to deport them on a serious crime / 2 year jail sentence – but on any crime and visa breach.
      Like most other countries.

      We have 2.561 million TR / SCV.
      Most would fail any ‘character test’.
      And the vast majority – at least 1.5 million – are on some form of pretext visa, and many are in visa breach of that.

      👎🏽712,000 Foreign students & fake partners on nonsense courses, our education system prostituted as as a visa alibi.

      Up to 9 year stay with massive COE & visa churn until they get the PR one way or another.

      75% or 534,000 work illegally (UTS/Syd Uni)
      Most live illegally in foreign criminal owned cash in hand slum share.
      There is 500,000 that should be character tested, visa conditions checked & deported.

      👎🏽696,000 are on a NZ SCV. NZ emptied out its young / unemployed into Australia during their recessions but now the SCV mechanism is the NZ waste pipe into Australia for their third world migrant influx.
      280,000 on the NZ SCV living in Australia are non NZ born – Indians & Asian’s, Middle Eastern – absolute bottom of the barrel who can’t get into Australia or got kicked out.
      So they sneak back into Australia via the NZ SCV loophole and ‘NZ stepping stone’
      Our fastest growing third world migrant intake.
      That’s 280,000 to also exit on character grounds.

      And there is another 250,000 Indian & Asians stacked up in NZ waiting for the passport stamp – to get permanent entry into Australia with full work rights..
      They should never be allowed in.
      The NZ / Aust SCV should only be for NZ / Aust born citizens.

      👎🏽240,000 third world migrants on fake protection visa claims – 5 year + stay with full work rights as they exploit the appeals process. 90% fail the test but by then they have some alternative visa lined up.
      So in reality very few get sent back and it’s very low cost way to get into Australia, work all the time, free education and support, and on odds get to stay forever.
      There is 240,000 that can be deported on character grounds.

      👎🏽 200,000 plus as so called working holiday, but 90% in the major cities, an entire industry of bribes & falsification of regional & rural work.
      None of these are genuine working holiday anymore, it’s eurotrash third world mature adult petty criminals, losers & misfits – only here to work illegally. The morality of the participants fails the good intentions of the program & it should be shut down.

      👎🏽Hundreds of thousands of third world Asian & Indians in rorting the investment, business. Fake. Criminal money.
      Most would fail even a basic character test.

      👎🏽And massive corruption in the spousal and the other visa categories. Again hundreds of thousands lying cheating frauding their way into Australia in our broken and corrupted visa system.

      -> Every visa category is totally corrupted.

      Easily 1.5 million TR / SCV are on some form of visa racket and only here to lie cheat & steal.
      Most who are in visa breach.
      Who would fail any ‘character check’

      Plus we have on top of that at least 440,000 illegally working tourist & visitors, black market labour, end of life Asian vice workers, and third world peasantry flown in for illegal farm work. (DHA 5% of the 8.8 million tourist visitors yearly are only here to work illegally)

      Again in visa breach – criminal & illegal and failing any cursory character check.

      This influx of third world amoral criminals then demand a ‘PR’ to suck up our Australian taxpayer funded Welfare & Medicare. And are given rights to ‘sponsor’ more third world useless like them.

      That’s broken also.
      Only a full citizen – here for over a decade or more should be able to sponsor anyone.

      Australia needs to not only reduce the intake of third world migrants but switch into aggressive round up and deportation.

  1. reusachtigeMEMBER

    Not good news for one of our nation’s greatest money earners. I have faith that our government will do everything they can to entice them back. Maybe allowing them to bring their extended family would be a great idea. They love having family around especially their elderlies. We need to give them all access to Medicare and extra special benefits like discounted public transport etc. Hopefully this would get more of them here.

    • Just curious.

      When you get your antibiotic shots/insertion removals etc, do you use private health insurance, or do you go as a public patient to (I assume) St Vincent’s.

      • boomengineeringMEMBER

        Harold, that just reminded me when young and the doc there saying “not you guys again”
        btw the quietest one of us got the worst dose. all of us others just NSU

    • Don’t worry, the strip clubs will survive.
      They may even make more profits as there will be more blokes in there willing to spend money.

  2. Last month I spoke with an old workmate who wanted to pick my brain on the advantages/costs of sending his 20 year old son abroad for continuing education and hopefully get some work on the side.
    He was considering studying Electrical engineering at UNSW undoubtedly the kid is bright because he is currently enrolled in Engineering at IIT …Anyway to cut a long story short the Dad wanted the prestige of UNSW but his son has spoken to friends and would rather study at a second tier UK university. I went over all the costs of living in Sydney and the likely wages he’d get for a part time job along with the tuition costs and likelihood that he would get a good intern job with good engineering mentors(which I rated as practically zero) and concluded that the UK probably was the better option.
    So it would appear that these days even a second/third tier UK engineering education beats a UNSW engineering degree (sad days indeed) Sadder still when you realize that this outcome has very little to do with the quality of UNSW education and everything to do with the pricing out of Industry that came hand in hand with our Real Estate insanity. ….what’s the point of even having a prestigious Engineering university if it doesn’t service an equally first rate design/development/manufacturing industry? ….sad days indeed when you have to admit to yourself (and an ex-colleague) that Australia is well and truly on the road to becoming a third world nation.
    He had read up on Australia’s universities and was impressed with how many Aussies now go on to study at University so he naturally wanted to know what all these graduates did (as in what jobs do they get?) Needless to say he couldn’t believe it when I told him that most graduates work in “Service” Industries with Health Care being the fastest growing sector (naturally his response was that nobody needs a degree to wipe an old persons butt) apparently they do in Australia, was all that I could reply.

    • Ronin8317MEMBER

      You can now finish your degree at UNSW faster : with the new 3 trimester system, a 3 year course can be finished in 2.(cost the same though..) That means you can apply for PR faster.

      If someone is not interested in Australian PR, then why bother studying here?

      • The answer used to be that UNSW was rated as one of the worlds top 50 Engineering schools.
        Still is I believe, but for how long can it remain so if there’s zero Industry Academic cross fertilization?
        Engineering is about solutions to real world problems, it was never meant to be the problem looking for a solution, but that’s what you get when Academic Engineering stands alone unsupported / un-directed by Industry.
        Twenty years ago a UNSW Electrical Engineering degree was your ticket into any top High tech company anywhere in the world, instant PR anywhere you choose, practically guaranteed. I wonder if today’s UNSW high tech graduates are still globally received with open arms.

      • I think the fact is that, these days, you only need hand over your money and they’ll give you the degree you bought (pardon me, ‘earnt’). Just remain enrolled for the full term of the course.

      • “You can now finish your degree at UNSW faster : with the new 3 trimester system, a 3 year course can be finished in 2.(cost the same though..) That means you can apply for PR faster”

        And with the **new, improved** educational standards, and local students doing all the work in group assignments, you will never fail !! …… Pass marks guaranteed.